NACDL - Defender Advocacy Resources

Defender Advocacy Resources

One of the most important factors in reducing unnecessary pretrial confinement is the presence of an effective and zealous attorney to advocate on behalf of the accused at the initial appearance and bail review hearing. The presence of a skilled advocate improves case outcomes and enhances the sense of fairness vital to a healthy criminal justice system.

When defense attorneys are present, defendants are more likely to be able to present favorable and verified information to the court establishing that a defendant is not a flight risk and will return to court if released. They are able to identify potential legal defenses, raise issues regarding the sufficiency of the charges and challenge whether there was probable cause for the defendant’s arrest. They can advocate for the least restrictive conditions of release that will reasonably ensure a defendant’s attendance at court proceedings and protect the community. They can identify defendants who may be eligible to participate in drug treatment, diversion programs or other pre-adjudication alternatives to incarceration.

To aid defenders in this crucial work, under a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, NACDL developed a number of resources. Each of the Bail Manuals includes not only information specific to the jurisdiction but also guidance which can be employed by defenders in courtrooms across the country. The materials include information on risk assessment instruments, federal case law, tools for initial client interviews, and methods for effective pretrial release advocacy. In addition NACDL has videos that provide practical information on how to engage in meaningful pretrial advocacy on behalf of those being detained. 

NACDL Harris County Bail Manual  


Additional Resources